Roof & Gutters: Winter Checklist

Imagine this... Its freezing cold, the snow is 4 inches deep and you're alone at home. The snow storm outside is freakishly & eerily giving you the idea that a homicidal maniac is on the loose. It's the most cliché of scenes you could think of yet at the same time you are getting freaked out. Little sounds coming from all corners of the house disturb you and give you goose bumps on every single inch of your skin. You can hear dripping from cracked flashing; your eyes try to trace the source of the sound from the puddle of water on the ground all the way up to the now hideous formation of a ceiling spot thanks to the leaking water. Suddenly your mind switches from "Aaarrrggghhhhhhh, I'm going to die", to "Man, that looks ugly, I need to fix that before this place starts to look like a dungeon", and you come to realize that all these sounds are just reflecting your lack of attention towards your house.

So instead of going through such an elaborate mental process to come to realize something that is obvious, plan ahead. Winter might be a couple of months away but it's better to do what you got to do now before the shrill cold gets the better of you. If you're like me, and have a habit of procrastinating then let's turn over a new leaf for this winter. Let's face it, it isn't the most difficult job in the world neither will it take hours and hours to get it done. So why procrastinate?

Your roof and gutters form a very important part of your houses existence. I'm going to make it very simple for you and give you a list of items that you should check and then tick off the list and you're good to go. It's as easy as 123!

Let's start with your roof - there are 4 main things:

  1. Shingles
  2. Gutters
  3. Flashing
  4. Pipes & Chimneys

These four are the main components of the roof which need to be intact and functioning when winter comes knocking on your door. It is very crucial that the drainage system of your roof is working well and rain water exits quickly. If it is not working properly, then during winter the problem will only get worse because of the freeze-thaw cycle. So let's do everything we can to avoid this.

First things first, inspect your roof. Look carefully for any signs of damage. What do you see?

Let's start with the shingles

There are two main things you should check your shingles for:

  1. Check to see if they are curled or buckled: If your shingles are curled/buckled then this is a sign of improper installation and should be rectified immediately.
  2. Check to see if your shingles are blistered: If they are blistered then make sure your roof is getting proper ventilation. Inadequate ventilation leads to blistered shingles. Also, check to see if there is any damage due to nibbling of animals like squirrels and of course, birds.

Let's move onto the gutters

First check to see if your gutters are securely attached. Securely attached gutters will make sure there is no blockage in the drainage system. Lastly check to see if there are granules in the gutters. Granules indicate that your shingles are getting old and starting to disintegrate. If this is the case then you will need to replace your shingles as soon as you can.

Next is the flashing

This isn't exactly on the roof but it should be part of the 'winter preparation checklist'. Make sure that the flashing for your chimney or any other wall connected to your roof does not have cracks. Even if snow sits on the roof for a bit, the cracks will allow it to leak into the house and you definitely don't want that during the icy-cold winter. It is preferable to fix metal or aluminum flashing and should be used around roof vents, piping, skylights and chimneys.

Pipes & Chimneys

Pipes surround the house and if your house has a chimney then it is more likely to be used during the winter because you'll probably light the fireplace to keep the house warm. It is recommended that both pipes and the chimney be checked before the winter. Make sure your pipes are sealed properly, not clogged or cracked and screwed firmly into place. Your chimney needs to be crack free so that there is no place for leaks.

About the author:

Once you've done these things then you're pretty much good to go. If after checking all this you realize that you pretty much need a new roof then act fast and get a new roof for your four walls or else your house will be literally 'snowed in'. There are many companies that will do your entire roofing for you. Personally, I went for Champion Window because they are eco-friendly and I am a very eco-friendly person. We wanted to replace the entire roof and use eco-friendly tiles and improve the energy-efficiency of our home.

If you follow the above instruction you'll be good to go for the winter. In fact these are guidelines which you can follow all year around because let's all just take a moment here and agree on the fact that no one wants leaks or roof damage during any time of the year. So do what you need to do and get the roof done.

Michael has a natural flair for interior and exterior home decor. He believes home improvements should not only be aesthetic but sensible and energy-efficient as well. Michael is a freelance writer who has had 12 years of experience as an interior designer.